We have been head over heels in love with the BMW S 1000 XR since it came out five years ago. Now it has a son.
Photography by RS
I’ll never forget having a BMW S 1000 XR for 18 months in 2016-17. I used that beast to cover over 10,000 miles of everything from cruising to the shops, to weekend blasts into the country and a couple of trips to Laguna Seca, and was totally smitten with it—I still am.
So, I’ll admit to being rather surprised when BMW announced at the EICMA Show in 2019 that they were bringing out a smaller XR in an attempt to get new bums on BMW seats. At the time, I didn’t really understand why. BMW already had the F 850 R (which later became the F 900, the same platform of which is used to make up this XR variant), plus there are 13 other (count them) GS models to choose from, so it’s not like the rider didn’t have many other options on which to spend his or her money.
I had the F 900 XR for a couple of weeks to end 2020 (you can read Kit Palmer’s full launch report on the 2020 BMW F 900 XR here.), and in that time it proved an ample steed for the majority of tasks handed to it, although there were a few frustrations that bubbled through.
BMW’s F 900 range of R and XR uses the same chassis and a totally revised parallel-twin motor that now sits at 895cc, pumping out a claimed 99 horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque. However, rather than have the Dynamic Pro option fitted to our test XR, we got the base model with no additions—so no Dynamic Traction Control, Engine Brake Control, Wheelie Control or cruise control—that last point stung somewhat.
The base model comes with non-adjustable 43mm front suspension and preload- and rebound-adjustable shock, the former with a handy knob to adjust preload on the right side, rather than the old hammer and screwdriver method.
We weighed the XR at 495.1 pounds with a full tank of 4.1 gallons of gas, which puts it in the ballpark of bikes like the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT (485 pounds, claimed) and the Ducati Multistrada 950 (500 pounds, claimed). Despite having non-adjustable front suspension, BMW has done a good job with the ride comfort of the XR. It’s certainly softer than you’d want for performance street riding, but for 99 percent of the riding I covered, which included traffic jams and a couple of weekend scoots, the XR provided a plush ride and had a cornering poise that belied its size.
You’re very much in the Adventure-style ride position with the XR, and it’s one you can sit in for days. BMW also fitted its cupped seat, which I wasn’t a fan of when I tested the 1000 XR last year; I don’t mind it as much on the 900 variant.
The 895cc twin produces an almost robotic drone, very much like the flat-twin brothers in the BMW lineup, and there’s plenty of torque on tap. The motor pulls nicely from as low as 2500 rpm but runs out of puff once you hit about 8000 rpm. It’s best to keep the revs to around 7000 rpm, which is just past the peak torque point. There, performance is always on tap, and it’s surprising how quick you can hustle a 900 XR around.
However, I would be remiss to not to mention lack of finesse with regards to the gearbox. Our test bike was not fitted with a quickshifter, and although the XR didn’t suffer any miss-shifts, the gear change was heavy, a touch notchy and stubbornly refused to go into neutral at the traffic lights if ridden for more than five minutes. The only time it would go into neutral was when I switched the engine off. Not an ideal situation.
This gripe aside, the base model XR is a good thing, especially when you consider the vast BMW aftermarket catalog at your disposal. Everything from luggage to performance add-ons is at your service, and you can option the 900 up to the same spec as the 1000 XR (minus the engine, of course).
As for getting new bums on seats, the 900 XR has as good a chance as any to do so for BMW. That said, it is a big, full-size bike, so perhaps the smaller F 750 GS variants would work better in this regard. BMW’s lineup is now pretty much complete, and if you’re dreaming of crossing the country in record time on a 1000 XR, the 900 XR is a good place to start. CN
2021 BMW F 900 XR Specifications
||Inline, 2-cylinder, 4-stroke
|Bore x Stroke:
||86 x 77mm
||99 hp at 8500 rpm
||68 lb-ft. at 6750 rpm
||Constant mesh 6-speed
||Multi-disc, wet clutch (anti-hopping), mechanically operated
||Bridge-type, steel shell construction
||Inverted 43mm telescopic fork
||Cast-aluminum dual swingarm, central spring strut, spring preload hydraulically adjustable, rebound-damping adjustable
||Dual floating discs, 320mm, 4-piston radial brake calipers, ABS
||Single disc, 265mm, 1-piston floating caliper, ABS
||120/70 ZR 17 in.
||180/55 ZR 17 in.
||32 in. / 32.5 in.
|Weight (wet, measured):